African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Bamileke statue
Bamileke N' Ketuok reliquary statue (N° 20569)
This carved figure ("N'Kétuok") embodying a male ancestor with a large ovoid head and a thick, stocky morphology, was carved in wood and then covered with a now-cracked clay coating.
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A cavity for use as a reliquary was carved out of the back.
Among the Bamiléké as in other ethnic groups, art objects testified to their owner's place in society. Thus, the materials and forms of the objects varied according to social status. The king Bamiléké , also called fon, guarantor of the fertility of the soil and the protection of his subjects, was not considered mortal. Because of this, his funeral was a joyous celebration, with the fon simply physically retiring but still watching over his people from his new home.
Located in the border region of Nigeria, Cameroon's Northwestern province, the Grassland is made up of several ethnicities: Tikar, Anyang, Widekum, Chamba, Bamoun, and Bamileke . Several centralized chiefdoms, or kingdoms, based on customary associations, secret societies, are organized around the Fon who is said to have broad supernatural powers including the ability to transform himself into an animal such as the python, elephant, leopard, or buffalo.
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